I’ve been to a lot, and I mean A LOT of conventions but none have had panels quite as fun as I got to sit through at first year of Wizard World Las Vegas. The weekend started with a celebrity meet and greet for the press at “The High Roller” observation wheel where the stars were a little subdued, even going as far as to step off on their own to start to get to know each other since some were fresh to the tour and others were veterans. Adrenaline junkie and former Green Power Ranger, Jason David Frank, and Boondock Saints star, Sean Patrick Flanery, were good examples as they said a few words then spent most of the greet time off to the side quietly talking about crazy jumps Frank had taken over the years. Frank really made up for it by being one of the last people to leave the mixer afterwards but it did leave a bit of wonder as to how much interaction there would be during the con.
The floor interactions were mixed, most of the celebrities were behind large outlines on the floor that were not to be crossed unless you had a voucher for an autograph. The great mix of comic and tattoo artists were a whole different story – inviting and engaging just about everyone who passed their booth. It really seemed like maybe this was really just a comic and tattoo convention with only a few exceptions such as Jason David Frank and cosplayers such as Jessica Merizan.
Then the panels kicked in. If you ever make it to Wizard World convention, you HAVE to hit the panels. Sometimes at conventions, the panels seem like a boring waste of time – time that could be better spent on the floor. This convention was the polar opposite. Great comic writers such as Michael Golden gave some of the best writing tips for any medium I have ever heard – his cures for writer’s block were simple yet terrific! James Marsters challenged the audience to try to shock or embarrass him while at the same time making sure not to offend parents with kids. His behind the scene stories were riveting. Subdued Sean Patrick Flanery became a madman as he and David Della Rocco hit their stage as living embodiments of Jay and Silent Bob with Rocco occasionally giving one word answers and just looking cool and comfortable while Flanery would get excited, engaging and ramble off terrific stories. Flanery even called out a girl sitting at the back of the room charging her phone in the wall and had her sit in the front while throwing her a tshirt.
Cassandra Peters was her elegant self as she talked and joked about her career, making a fine point that she still loves Halloween and Knott’s Scary Farm (things also very dear to us at GamingShogun). Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose were a the perfect WWE panel as they told stories from behind the scenes as well as feeding the die-hard wrestling fans in the room great doses of the characters that have made them so famous.
The talk of the convention though had to be the panel by Michael Rooker. Holy crap – he had more energy and just almost electrifying presence than I think anyone had anywhere all weekend. He took no time jumping off the stage, running through the crowd having them as him questions or make requests then flying onto the next person. The cameramen couldn’t keep up with him, just trying to follow him with your eyes almost made you dizzy as he flew around giving hugs and fast quipping. Every joke or comment was perfectly timed and hilarious and the crowd ate it up from the moment he jumped off the stage to the second he rolled back onto it and to his feet leaving everyone reeling. I started the conventions heading to the mixer in an elevator with Rooker and he was fun and unabashedly joking then, it was just a preview of the amazing time he gave the audience at his panel and at home watching on ConTV.
I highly recommend Wizard World Las Vegas and can’t wait until it hits bright, shining city once again. Attendees would be best served by putting a little time aside for the floor, planning out ahead of time which artists you want to meet and concentrate on hitting as many panels as possible. They overlap so it isn’t a bad idea to make a schedule before hand so you don’t wind up missing any. My only true regrets of the weekend were not being able to catch more of the panels and hearing that Bruce Campbell canceled his appearance. At least I know he didn’t make it because he was working on Evil Dead goodness!